There are plenty of copycats using that tool, a few innovative performers, some entertainers, and then there are those writers on the fringe that seem to be a part of the scene but ultimately don't fit satisfyingly into its machinations. Aidan Baker's affair with abstract music places him somewhere in that final group, a group far more interesting than the often proclaimed masters of the genre.
It wouldn't make any sense to place all the slow, dark music of the world into the same category that
Sunn0))) or Khanate reign over. In fact, I think the two bands are dissimilar enough to warrant
questions about why they are even considered part of the same musical sensation (despite sharing
members). In wouldn't make any sense and it wouldn't be fair. Despite the imitators and all the
sensational hyperbole chucked at certain groups within the doom world, there are some genuinely
fantastic albums being made full of visceral and mental appeal. Nadja's contribution to this style of
music isn't, fortunately, just another slab of tombstone metal fixated on sounding evil. Their fifth
effort since 2005 has plenty to offer to would-be listeners and manages to sound fresh despite the
veritable avalanche on doomish metal released this year.
Yes, Truth Becomes Death is only three tracks long and yes all three are over ten minutes in
duration. One is actually closer to half an hour long. So maybe Baker and Leah Buckareff are using that
can-o-epic to their advantage; each track sprawls out like a metropolis ready and waiting for victims
and appreciators alike, each is about as heavy as it gets, and each prominently features guitar hum,
feedback, or distortion in large doses. It works fantastically, though, because Baker and Buckareff
combine all that noise with the attitude appropriate to most drone architects. Less focused on the black
heart of the human soul, Nadja's sound is refined and careful, treading carefully where most other bands
would simply let short circuits or unpredictability take over and do the work for them. Less noise, more
melody, and slowly evolving themes carry Truth Becomes Death from beginning to end. That's
actually enough to make it stand out among its peers in most respects, but the album also boasts a
mostly non-repetitive structure; it is organic, combining the buzz of sheet metal vibrating in the wind
with seemingly random guitar strokes layered over one another. Baker and Buckareff have a script and,
instead of wondering aimlessly without reason, they exact their plan relentlessly, making each second of
the album seem necessary and firm.
This is a dusty record, grainy to the touch and modeled after the shifting of deserts. As it slowly
blows itself apart, Baker unleashes his monstrous, deep vocals and leaves them to find a home among all
wavering melodies and blasted percussion. Baker and Buckareff work with their music like it is a
narrative, in accordance with the stories that inspired the lyrics. Letting the music move in the same
way the stories must've for them, these songs move step by step, logically, without any attempt at
abridging the ideas the stories inspired. If one of the tracks is 23 minutes long then it is that way
because it had to be. Without the time afforded these song, the duo couldn't have executed them with
that sense of loneliness and intrigue.
Truth Becomes Death is perhaps more relaxing to me more than anything else. While I wouldn't want to listen to most doom metal while laying down, Nadja's slowly chugging music is more appropriate for quiet times and sounds more like a meditation than a screaming, helpless twitch. Not only that, but the complete lack of image, the complete separation from metal that Baker's past musical accomplishments makes possible helps Nadja seem less silly, less trifle, and somehow less laughable. I was once playing a doom metal record for a friend and he kept telling me that it sounded like cartoon Halloween music, but when I played Nadja for that same friend, his first reaction was, "I feel like this is going to swallow me up." Without all the posturing, those more infamous musical genres that Nadja draw from turn out to be affecting, which is a lot more interesting than all that faux-horror shit that seems to come with the metal label.